Common Council member: proposed city budget needs to be amended

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo Common Council member Mitch Nowakowski said that the proposed $41 million budget increase outlined by Buffalo mayor Byron Brown in his State of the City address on Wednesday needs to be amended.

Nowakowski, who represents the Fillmore District, is the chair of the Common Council Finance Committee.

The proposed budget from Brown Tuesday was just under $618 million, which was a 7.1% increase from last year’s budget of $576.9 million. The increase was due to union contracts, health insurance costs, Medicare and capital debt.

The city is proposing a 9% tax levy hike, which would bring the city an additional $14.9 million in revenue. The bill means that a home that is assessed at $100,000 would see an annual increase of about $78, while commercial businesses assessed at $200,000 would see an increase of $464.

Mayor Brown details proposed $41M budget increase during State of the City

New York State has a 2% cap on a tax levy, but the common council voted to override that limit, similar to what several other municipalities, including Kenmore, which proposed a 5% tax levy earlier this month.

“For over the course of 13 years, the mayor proposed a budget that some certain senior councilmembers approved where there was no growth in taxes,” Nowakowski said. “Thus, keeping revenues low and expenses growing and using other revenue to fill in the middle. Now, those revenues are shoring up and our revenues do not meet our expenses and we are going to face fiscal turbulence next year.”

Nowakowski said that the council needs to come together to make amendments on the proposal, even if that does include making tough decisions on raising taxes in order to make sure the city is in a good spot financially.

“We need to step up and be leaders and make tough decisions,” Nowakowski said. “It’s not fun to raise taxes. It’s sometimes what politicians usually fear from, but we cannot have leaders fear from making responsible decisions.”

You can watch Nowakowski’s full interview on Wednesday in the video player above.

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Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.

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